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Williamsburg, Michigan

Music House Museum

Full-sized barn houses many restored instruments. 

An educational institution whose mission is to collect, restore, and preserve and demonstrate automated musical machines and related Americana of their era; and to educate all age groups of their significance to music, culture, technology, and regional history - at least according to its official manifesto - the Music House Museum in the small town of Acme, Michigan, hosts an amazing collection. Among the museum’s many recognized artifacts are calliope’s, nickelodeons, player pianos, and even a reproducing piano that was once used by Rachmaninoff and George Gershwin.

Houses in a full-sized white barn, the museum’s 1922 dance organ - Amaryllis - takes up the entire loft space of the structure; it’s 30 feet wide and 18 feet tall and once entertained guests at the Victoria Palace ballroom in Belgium. Even in this relatively small space, guided tours last an hour because of the deep knowledge that docents bring to the collection. The museum doesn’t just display the goods, though; most of the collection has been lovingly restored and the instruments can still play.

Among those instruments are a 1924 Wurlitzer Theater Organ and a 97-key Mortimer Dance Organ that was built in Antwerp in 1922. There are also air-powered music machines, phonographs, church organs, radios, and antique music boxes.

In addition to the musical instruments on display, the Music House Museum features re-creations of a saloon, lyric theater, and a general store. An exhibit known as the Traverse Model City uses small-scale models to showcase some buildings that existed in the area in the 1930s. There are also events and special exhibits and events, such as the silent films screenings and an annual School Days, which traces the history of musical instruments for children, going all the way up to the iPod.

Know Before You Go

Eight miles North of Traverse City on US 31.